Marching to nowhere

It was quite the spectacle in Washington today. Several hundred thousand had gathered for the forty-first annual March for Life, and the Republican Party —  bristling with its new majority in both houses of Congress — were tabling a bill to limit child-killing to the first twenty weeks in the mother’s womb. (The Judgment of Solomon comes to mind.) They pulled the bill after a party tussle over … O Lord, it is too absurd. The upshot was handing a huge propaganda victory to the pro-abortion side, with liberal media gleefully headlining that Republican “women and moderates” had stopped the thing.

The truth is that the whole party consists of gutless gnomes. Even with polls showing three-in-five electors supporting the bill, they could not man up. Tens of millions of children have been slaughtered, and they slip over a rape exemption, and whether women should have to report the rape in order to be exempted — after twenty weeks! Republicans may claim to be pro-life, but it counts for nothing when they are morally and intellectually unserious.

Forty-two years after Roe v. Wade, it is imagined that Americans are still “having a debate.” But this is nonsense. There never has been a debate, and in the nature of the case, there never could be. Perhaps a debate is possible over capital punishment. But you cannot debate about killing babies, who have committed no crimes. Either one grasps that this is invariably morally abhorent, or one does not. That only three in five should be opposed to abortion — instead of five in five — is a national scandal. (The scandal up here in Canada is worse.) That many even of those against abortion would consider exceptions, then make them sticking points, reveals a society depraved.

And whom the gods would destroy, they first drive mad. I must insist on this point: that what is morally abhorent will also prove obtuse, intellectually. We do not take a crime off the books, because someone can think of a circumstance in which it might be extenuated: not when the principle of mercy in hard cases is itself compact in our entire legal tradition. By turning an extenuation into a waiver, the very possibility of mercy is foregone.

It is perhaps more obvious that no one can draw a line at twenty weeks, between what is human and what is to be given legal equivalence to an unwanted cat. The premiss of the Republican bill, that after twenty weeks the foetus can feel pain, was a monstrous farce. We are not discussing cruelty to animals. Yet I would seize on the distinction if only to defend one human life.

Either that life has absolute value, or it has not. If it has not, no one is secure in the law. There can be no middle ground on this. We see this in the polling of the young. While it is probably true that a growing proportion of them oppose abortion “on balance,” those who approve it take increasingly radical positions. My information is that a high proportion of those who call themselves “pro-choice” now also support infanticide at up to five years of age, and “euthanasia” at any age on almost any excuse.

These are mere opinions, however. Many people entertain horrific opinions, but would not act on them. And the young, as they learn in the course of time, are exceptionally stupid.

Opinions are worthless when it comes to the test. That is when we find if the voluble pro-lifer will actually carry the baby to term. The same technology that shows it is human, also shows irregularities and risks. I note estimates that suggest nine-in-ten Down’s-syndrome children now get aborted. There are many other temptations to take what first appears the easy way out, and in those moments opinions will not help the girl. The question is no longer abstract, and she must turn to the grace of God.

And when she turns there, she will know how things really stand. Whether or not from her own fault, her life will be harder, but look around: every human life is hard, all of us must carry crosses. She still has a life, and in this child who is growing inside her, and out of her very womanhood, she now has more reason to live. It is not just the life of the baby, but the life of the mother that can be redeemed. What she in her despair has taken as the means to her damnation, could instead be the means to her salvation. And in the moment she has discovered that, she will love that child with a mother’s love, so great that rather than kill the child, she would die for it. This is the reality that feminists sneer at, and abortionists deny.

The opinions of males come to less than nothing, for the fathers of these defenceless children are removed by law from any say in whether they will be slain. In the public mind, at the present moment, the “choice” is who stands higher in authority: women, or God? For those who think, whether publicly or privately, that God is a fairy tale, the answer is a snip.

Yet all along, through this last ignominious half-century, regardless of the overall level of support or opposition to abortion, women have been more likely than men to oppose, and for an obvious reason: because women can actually become pregnant. It is on this very account that they feel more vividly what is at stake. A man is more likely, in current circumstances, to feel what the pregnancy of the woman might cost him, in child support. For this reason I have long thought any referendum should be restricted to women.

In this, further, we see the “auld alliance” from the 1960s, still unshakable, between feminists and playboys. The young man seeks his sport among women who have freed themselves from the “oppression” of the old morality. (Every moral demand is oppressive to the sinful will.) He supports “women’s issues” with a smirk on his face; or that earnest look, as his quarry draws near.

But again, referenda are meaningless, on questions of right and wrong that transcend the interests of any one generation. And even within that oscillating congress of the living, babies can’t vote — when their very lives depend on the outcome. That is why we had unchanging laws: to protect the defenceless against fleeting “public opinion” in their immediate vicinity. That is what Roe v. Wade blew away in 1973, with consequences far beyond the issue of abortion. Their glib decision (on the level of legal reasoning, it was a sick joke, making one human’s life subject to another’s passing idea of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”) unshackled the American courts, to rule by fashionable whim on every other matter of good and evil, life and death.

Such that even were a referendum held, and an overwhelming majority voted to restore the law as it once was, the result would be quickly obviated. It would be made irrelevant, just as the results of referenda that opposed same-sex marriage, by large margins, in every one of the thirty-one states that held them, were swept aside by a few liberal judges — creating the latest fait accompli for the U.S. Supreme Court to acknowledge, in June. We live today in a lawless society, bound in by multiplying laws on every side — like waves, on a sea of triviality. (This result is less Orwellian, than Kafkaesque.)

We are told that the many pro-life marches — though largely ignored in the liberal media, which put far smaller liberal-themed rallies at the top of page one — have had an influence on public opinion. The evidence is that the abortion rate has fallen. Frankly, I don’t believe the pro-life explanation. I think the truth is that the phenomenon is hollowing out: people who would abort have been aborted; and morning-after pills are now available. Nature is taking its course as the overall birthrate plunges, in North America as in Europe and elsewhere. Fewer women of child-bearing age means fewer having abortions: the rate should continue to fall. I see no sign of a moral recovery, and will not celebrate the statistics until they show the birth rate rising and the abortion rate falling at the same time.

This result will be achieved when America begins to re-Christianize, or when it is put under Shariah. These are the available options; a secular America will simply go extinct.